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Drug bust nets thousands of fentanyl-laced pills, millions of heroin doses

A drug enforcement task force has seized millions of doses worth of illegal drugs officials say could have ended up on Delaware streets. 

Federal and local law enforcement officials announced Thursday the arrest of two individuals they say sold pills containing the potent opioid fentanyl in Delaware. 

According to law enforcement officials, Ricardo Perez-Guillen and Julian Rivera-Villa each sold a Drug Enforcement Administration source fentanyl-laced counterfeit oxycodone pills at a Royal Farms in New Castle County this summer. Officials say the two are Mexican nationals in the U.S. illegally. 

U.S. Attorney for the District of Delaware David Weiss said a search of the men’s trailer in New Jersey lead to a seizure that was “substantial” for the district.

“We believe, at least based on our recent historical comparisons, that the ten kilograms of heroin is the most that we’ve seized in Delaware,” said Weiss. “The 14,000 pills [are] certainly the most in that form that we’ve seized. ”

The seizure also included three kilograms of cocaine. Law enforcement officials also located $28,000 in cash in the trailer. Perez-Guillen was arrested August 21 and Rivera-Villa was taken into custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to law enforcement, he was previously deported from the U.S. as an aggravated felon. 

Weiss says the retail value of the drugs seized is estimated to be over $1 million. 

DEA Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge Shawn Ellerman said the more than 10 kilograms of heroin seized over the course of the investigation equates to 3.3 million doses. He says as a result of the investigation, those millions of doses "did not hit the streets, did not flood the communities from the beach to the city of Wilmington itself."

Ellerman says the seizure also sheds light on the distribution of illegal drugs in Delaware. 

“This is a substantial amount of narcotics that is in the state of Delaware,” he said. “This proves to us, as we always said, that there are high-trafficking organizations operating not just around but in Delaware itself.”

Ellerman also warned anyone buying oxycodone pills “in neighborhoods” that there is a “great possibility” they are getting counterfeit pills, likely laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the DEA. 

Weiss says additional charges against Perez-Guillen and Rivera-Villa are forthcoming, and the investigation is not over. 

He notes the investigation this summer was lead by Middletown Police Department, the DEA and his office.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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